Carl Hester: does anyone on the FEI dressage committee really care about the sport? *H&H VIP*

  • It looks as though the next progression in scoring will be the removal of the highest and lowest marks per movement, rather than the overall score. What this means is, that despite the Judges Supervisory Panel’s role, we will no longer have the shock of a 10% difference in scores.

    I understand this is more popular with riders and trainers than removal of overall scores. This way, it won’t undermine the way of judging but will teach new judges, who will be able to follow a learning process instead of individuals being vilified and criticised.

    There were big differences in scoring at the recent CDI in Lier, Belgium, which was not only sponsored by a Ukrainian company (overall sponsors of the World Dressage Masters series) and had entries from Ukrainian riders, but had a judge from Ukraine, and also from Belarus and Estonia. While not breaking any rules, there were a lot of points being thrown around wildly, rather in the manner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Another point to consider if this scores proposal is ratified, is whether national federations would implement it. Would it be used at the national championships, where there are five judges involved?

    ’I don’t believe in elimination’

    The proposal to subtract 3% for a first error and a second resulting in elimination was not one I’d support, despite David Stickland’s analysis that it would have landed me gold at the 2011 Europeans.

    I haven’t done the maths since the FEI ratified the proposal at 2% last weekend, but I believe it’s wrong.

    I made a few comparisons with showjumping in my last column. Error of course leads to elimination and showjumpers have a short time to learn the course, so if you look at it that way how can we say we can’t remember where we should be going?

    However, the problem is that this rule would put crazy pressure on the judges. What if someone turned two metres before B in passage? Is that an error of course? An eight-metre circle more like six or 10? You can just imagine if one person did something that resulted in elimination and then another did the same but it wasn’t noticed. I don’t believe in elimination — dressage is harmony and training, not a “beat the course” challenge.

    I do wonder whether anyone on the FEI dressage committee really likes or cares about dressage.

    Shocking parents

    One of the fun parts of my job is being invited to give out prizes, which I recently did for the British Young Riders Dressage Scheme (BYRDS) central region at Hartpury. I love supporting things like this — the pure excitement on the winners’ faces — but I did feel sympathy for those that didn’t win. I tried to explain to them that I come from a yard with a world, European and Olympic champion so whenever we’re at the same shows it is more than likely I won’t win.

    Being totally satisfied with my performance is as good as it gets, and when that’s achieved it’s time to treat yourself to a special reward. The look of horror on the parents’ faces will stay with me for some time!

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 19 November 2015